With the entrance of many Iranian pilgrims to the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala, the arbaeen pilgrimage is being held very gloriously and with all security measures. This is while based on official report, while only one day had remained to the day of arbaeen, over 1.5 Iranian pilgrims had joined the huge crowd of Iraq and non Iraqi pilgrims in Karbala and Najaf. The number of people attending the pilgrimage has been in the millions for years. In 2013 the number hit 15 million and the following year, it hit the record 20 million to make the largest human gathering on earth.
The rite has been on in various eras. It was even done covertly during the time of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The rite has been given attention by the ulema and scholars, most of whom have attended the rite. Following that, supreme leader ayatollah seyyed Ali Khamenei as like every year, in his Monday class said the arbaeen pilgrimage is a unique heritage and said: the mixture of love and faith and wisdom and passion is one of the unique characteristics of the ahl ol bait.
Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, taught Dars-e Kharij this Monday morning and speaking at the session, His Eminence described the unique phenomenon of Arbaeen and the great and significant pilgrimage on this occasion as an eternal hasanah [good deed], saying: "The combination of ‘love and faith’ and ‘reason and affection’ is one of the unique characteristics of the Ahlul Bayt school of thought. The loving and religious movement of people from different countries in the world who participate in this unprecedented phenomenon is undoubtedly one of the divine signs.”
Pointing to the generosity and kindness of the people of Iraq in hosting Arbaeen pilgrims, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution stressed that those who have the opportunity to participate in this meaningful and significant movement should appreciate its value. He added: "We too envy the Arbaeen pilgrims from afar and we wish that we could accompany you.”
Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated that the opportunity to establish a spiritual and loving relationship with the Holy Prophet’s (s.w.a.) household (a.s.) and to visit these outstanding, prominent, enlightened and spiritual personalities is one of the privileges of the Shia school among Islamic denominations. He stated: "The great movement of people from Iran and other countries in the world for the sake of participating in the Arbaeen pilgrimage is a reflection of the outstanding characteristics of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) school of thought in which both ‘faith, sincere convictions and true beliefs’ and ‘love and affection’ radiate.”
His Eminence also invited Arbaeen pilgrims to observe the rules and regulations about making this pilgrimage, saying: "The administration has imposed certain regulations for leaving the country which should definitely be observed and moving outside the boundary of these regulations is not appropriate.”
The history of the arbaeen pilgrimage
The beginning of the arbaeen pilgrimage dates back to the year 61, hejri calendar, and the Karbala tragedy. According to ulema’s narratives on the 20th of the year 61, hejri, there is the 40th day of the martyrdom of Hussain ibn Ali, whose head was taken back to his body in Karbala as his family were taken back under arrest, and buried there.
According to historical records, Jaber ibn Abdollah, is the first pilgrim of Karbala, who on the Arbaeen of that very year started his travel from Medina to karbala. Abdollah’s historic move is thus stressed by the supreme leader on the first day of Farvardin in the Iranian year 1385: the beginning of the magnetic attraction fo the act of Hossein is the arbaeen. It lifts Jaber ibn Abdollah from Medina and drags him to Karbala, this is the very magnetic attraction that is in my and your hearts after many centuries.
Through history, Shia ulema have had a key role in encouraging the followers to taking the pilgrimage, not only suggesting the move, but also taking part in it in person. Ulema like Sheik Ansari, Qazi Tabatabaei, Melki tabrizi, Bahjat, Makarem Shirazi, Shobeiri Zanjani, Sistan, Vahid Khorasani, and Javadi Amoli have mentioned the necessity and significance of the rite, and called the Shiite to take part in it.
Sheik Mirza Hossein Nouri
Many consider Sheik Mirza Hossein Nouri as the reviver of the pilgrimage in the current era. Hossien Mohaddes Nouri, son of Mohammad Taqi Mohades Nouri Mazandarani, the author of Mostadrak al Vesayel, and one of the key shia scholarsin the 14th century, hejri, based on many declarations, the rite had been forgotten during his time. It was then revived by Sheik Mirza Hossein Nouri. This high ranking scholar first set off for the pilgrimage on the eid of Qurban from najaf to Kerbala. He was 3 days on road and he was accompanied by some 30 friends. According to historical records, the shiek pretty much every year took the pilgrimage.
MIrza javad Agha Melki Tabrizi
With the giant step taken by Mirza Hossein Nouri, the arbaeen pilgrimage was once more the fad. After that, many lovers of imam Hossein and some ulema took the pilgrimage on foot. Mirza Javad Agha Melki Tabrizi was one of the great shia scholars who took the trip on foot many times. He said in this regard: anyways it is a necessity for one that tries to take himself on the 20th of Safar to the shrine of the martyred Imam.
Seyyed Mohsen Amin Ameli
Seyyed Mohsen Amin Ameli the author of Ayan ol Shia and one of the great figures who was mainly active in the arbaeen pilgrimage.
There is a famous story about him regarding the arbaeen that goes thus: for ten and a half years, I was in Najaf. I used to read and perform the special ziarah’s of Ashura, Eid al Ahdha, Qadi, Arafa, and Arbain. But a while before the pilgrimage I would go to creditors and ask for blessing. I was interested in taking the pilgrimage on foot. It was first difficult for me, but then through experience I realized it was easy. On that journey. A number of pupils from Jebel Amel and Najaf and others would join and follow me.